Workshops & Seminars on Worship by Christine Longhurst


These individual workshops cover a wide range of topics related to congregational worship. They are designed to help congregations, pastors, worship planners, leaders, and musicians strengthen their understanding and practice of corporate worship.

Individual workshops are approximately 75 minutes long, and can be combined with other workshops to create a custom-made worship seminar for your congregation. Alternatively, churches can choose a series of workshops from the list of Weekend seminars.


On Music in Worship

1. Blending Musical Styles in Worship: Is it important?

Do congregations miss out when they limit their worship music to just one or two primary musical styles? Why might it be important to consciously work toward greater diversity of style? What kind of gifts do different musical styles bring to worshipping communities? This workshop will explore how using diverse musical styles in worship can help strengthen and enrich a congregation’s dialogue with God.

2. Blending Musical Styles in Worship: Where do you start?

Jazz, Praise & Worship, traditional and contemporary hymnody, Taize, Gospel, spirituals, folk…so many unique styles of worship music are available to us today. Is it possible to include a variety of different musical styles in the same service? This workshop will explore some practical suggestions for bringing the richness of diverse musical styles to congregational singing.

3. Why We Need Praise & Worship music (and why, by itself, it’s not enough)

Congregational singing hasn’t been the same since contemporary music exploded on to the scene some 40 years ago. Few people are neutral on the subject; most feel strongly either for or against it. This workshop will explore some of the strengths and weaknesses of Praise & Worship music. What gifts has it brought to corporate worship? And why is this one style, by itself, not enough for worshipping communities?

4. New Music Resources for Worship

Where are the best places to look for new worship music? What are the best sources for Praise & Worship? For contemporary hymnody? For music of the global church? Which new hymnals and supplements are worth purchasing for song leaders in your congregation? What are the best sites for music online? In this workshop I’ll share some of the best sources for new worship music.

5. Leading Well: Seven Ways to Inspire Your Choir

What can you do to make learning and performing choral music a positive and inspiring experience for singers? This workshop will explore a variety of ways that directors can improve the overall choral experience for themselves and their choirs.

6. Choosing Music for Worship

Choosing congregational music for worship is one of the most important tasks in worship today. It’s also one of the most difficult. Over the past 30-40 years, the way in which music is chosen for worship has changed dramatically. What criteria should you use to choose songs for worship? This workshop will explore a variety of different approaches and models for song selection: topical, functional, musical, experiential and more, and suggest ways in which your choices can strengthen corporate dialogue with God.

7. Designing and Leading Worship Sets

One of the primary trends in worship over the past thirty years has been the growing use of worship music ‘sets’; extended packages of congregational singing, usually within the first half of the worship service. As anyone who has chosen songs knows, it is no small task to select a set of songs which will help lead a congregation into corporate dialogue with God. All too often worship sets come across as a string of unrelated favorites rather than an essential part of the worship dialogue. This workshop will explore approaches to the design and leadership of worship sets, offering practical suggestions and examples along the way.

8. Leading Music in Worship

Many people begin song leading because they have some education, experience, and interest in music. It’s not long before they discover that leading music in worship requires more than just musical ability. This workshop will explore the role of the song leader in worship: what does it mean to lead well? How much leadership is too much? How much is not enough? How can you strengthen your leadership without distracting from the worship dialogue?

9. Song Leading Workshop

Song leaders get few opportunities (if any) to receive honest and constructive feedback on their leadership abilities. This workshop is designed for leaders who are interested in that kind of feedback, and who would like to strengthen their personal leadership skills. Each participant will be given an opportunity to lead the group, and will receive individual feedback and encouragement.

10. Building Congregational Repertoire

One of the greatest challenges facing those who choose and lead music in worship is how to carefully and consciously build congregational repertoire without frustrating or alienating the people in the pews. This is especially important these days because of the wealth of new music resources which surround us. On what basis should you choose new songs for worship? How many new songs are too many for most congregations? How often do you need to repeat a song before a congregation ‘owns’ it? This workshop will explore the importance of developing an overall vision for congregational worship repertoire, and offer practical suggestions about how individual song leaders and groups can work together to make their vision a reality.

11. Lessons from History: what the past can teach us about the present

The so-called “worship wars” occurring in many churches today are not a new thing—churches throughout history have faced similar challenges of changing traditions and expectations. What can the past teach about the challenges we face today? Are there naturally recurring cycles of tradition and innovation in worship music that might give some perspective on current practices? What does history teach about the need for diversity in worship music? Drawing on examples and stories from Scripture and history, this workshop will explore the truth behind the assertion that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

12. Keeping it Legal: worship music and copyright law

CCLI, LicenSing, One License – how many different music licenses does a church need? Which ones are best suited for your congregation’s needs? This workshop will explore the ins and outs of copyright law as it relates to congregational music.

13. Old Wine, New Wineskins: hymns in contemporary worship

Is traditional hymnody dead? Has its time come and gone? Is it no longer relevant to most worshipping communities? Or are there signs that it is beginning to make a comeback? This combination workshop/reading session will explore the growing resurgence of hymnody in contemporary worship.

14. New Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for Worship

So many wonderful new songs are being written for worship—how do we even begin to sort through them all? In this combination clinic/reading session we’ll sample a variety of new congregational songs in a broad range of current styles (contemporary hymnody, praise & worship, global music, folk, spirituals, and more). Along the way we’ll explore some of the unique gifts these different expressions bring to corporate worship, and discuss a variety of practical issues related to choosing and leading diverse musical styles in worship.

15. Working with Worship Bands and Worship Teams

Many churches now use worship teams and worship bands to lead congregational singing. This workshop looks at the unique role of these groups, and explores ways in which we might strengthen their effectiveness in worship. Topics will include: using instruments effectively; practical issues for vocalists; choosing music; encouraging congregational participation; leading worship; and more. The workshop can be geared either toward those who already have worship teams/bands, or to those who are considering starting them.


On Corporate Worship

1. Leading Worship: Guiding People into God’s Presence

Marlene Kropf has written: “Those who lead worship carry enormous responsibility for guiding people into God’s presence, into the spacious place of transformation. If worship leaders do not understand their role and do not inhabit it with conviction and grace, they will have difficulty creating a space where the Spirit can move.” This workshop will explore the role of the worship leader, and suggest a variety of practical ways in which leaders can help invite the congregation into a dynamic encounter with God.

2. Using Scripture in Worship

From the very beginning of the church the reading, hearing and exposition of God’s Word has been an essential part of Christian worship. From the intimate gatherings of the earliest believers to the magnificent ceremonies of the Renaissance cathedrals, from the secret forest gatherings of sixteenth-century Anabaptists to the solemn grandeur of Eastern Orthodoxy, to the multi-sensory worship of contemporary mega-churches – at all times and in all places one common element has endured: the reading and hearing of Scripture. This workshop will explore the role of Scripture in worship today, addressing questions such as: what expectations do we bring to the hearing of God’s Word in worship? How do we choose what is read? Who should read? How might we strengthen our corporate experience of Scripture reading?

3. Corporate Worship in the Postmodern Age

Western society is currently undergoing a significant period of transition from a modern to a postmodern worldview. The effects of this transition are already becoming evident in worshipping communities. This workshop will survey the primary characteristics of postmodernity, and explore the important implications of this shift on the practice and leadership of corporate worship.

4. Worship Renewal in the Twenty-first Century

“Go contemporary or die.” For years now, that’s the formula many church growth strategists have been promoting. But is it the only path to worship renewal? This workshop will survey a variety of other recent approaches to worship renewal, among them: Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future worship, and the rise of the Emerging Church movement.

5. Leading Corporate Prayer

Before Jesus gives the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples, he offers these words of caution: “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them” (Matthew 6:7). In what ways might our corporate prayers ‘heap up empty phrases’? How might you strengthen the prayers you lead in worship? This workshop will explore the language and content of corporate prayer (prayers of gathering, confession, invocation, intercession, praise/thanksgiving, sending), offering practical suggestions and resources along the way.

6. The Call to Intercessory Prayer

Karl Barth has been quoted as saying: “To fold one’s hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” The Bible provides us with a rich and broad vision of intercessory prayer, from the Old and New Testaments, from Jesus himself, and from the earliest Christian believers. Are churches today in danger of losing this rich biblical and historical vision of intercessory prayer as an act of ministry to the world around us? This workshop will explore the nature of intercessory prayer, and offer practical suggestions about how we can strengthen this important aspect of corporate worship.

8. Renewing Corporate Prayer in Worship

As Christians, we believe in prayer. We believe that God hears our prayers and responds to them. We believe in praying individually, but we also believe that praying in community is an essential part of our worship gatherings. The truth, however, is that many congregations spend little time praying together, and what prayer there is tends to be leader-led only. This workshop will explore the rich vision of corporate prayer we see in Scripture, and look at a variety of ways in which we can make our prayer truly corporate.

9. Media and Message: Using Technology in Worship

We live in an age of technology. The Internet, cellphones, personal DVD players, iPods – no previous age has seen such profound change in so short a time. But how does this infusion of images and information affect the way people worship? Should churches uncritically accept all the technological options available to them? This workshop explores some of the ways our hi-tech culture is impacting community worship, and investigates some pros and cons for using new worship technologies.

10. The Shape of Worship

Many of us are working with worship orders which we have inherited from previous generations. How intentional are our worship orders? Is yours serving the needs of your worshipping community? Does the shape of your weekly worship allow for healthy dialogue to take place with God, with one another, with the world outside the church? This workshop will explore practical ways in which the shape of our gatherings can strengthen and enrich our corporate worship experience.

11. Healthy Tensions in Planning and Leading Corporate Worship

There are no simple formulas when it comes to planning and leading corporate worship. Every worship service requires a variety of elements which need to be held in creative tension with one another. Marva Dawn calls these elements “opposite necessities.” This worship will explore the importance of a number of ‘opposite necessities’ in worship, including the healthy tension between revelation and response; transcendence and immanence; spirit and truth; and order and spontaneity.

12. Resources for Planning and Leading Worship

This workshop will explore a variety of print and web-based resources for planning and leading corporate worship.

13. “What You Want is What You Need”: The Challenge of Planning and Leading Corporate Worship in a Consumer Culture

In today’s consumer culture, where shopping has become the #1 leisure activity in North America, the search for personal satisfaction and fulfillment has become a way of life for most people. Church culture has not escaped the influence of consumerism. Rick Barger, author of A New and Right Spirit: Creating an Authentic Church in a Consumer Culture, writes: “Given the market-driven and consumer-based realities of our world, the church too often comes off, or is perceived, as some sort of spiritual version of a community recreation center, simply offering up programs and experiences to meet people’s needs.” This workshop will explore the influence of consumerism on corporate worship, and will offer practical suggestions for how we might plan and lead authentic worship in a deliberately countercultural way.

14. Celebrating Diversity

Jay Johnson has written: “One of the most morally profound acts we can ever undertake as human beings is to break bread and worship with those who are different from us.” In today’s market-driven, consumer-mentality church culture, this attitude is becoming less and less common. This workshop will explore the contemporary trend toward ‘niche’ worshipping communities based on differences in age and worship style preference, and seek out a biblical vision of corporate worship which embraces and celebrates diversity instead.

15. Jesus and Me: the Impact of Individualism on Corporate Worship

In his book, Where Two or Three are Gathered, Harmon Smith observes: “The community which gathers nowadays to celebrate religious liturgy is frequently not a real community so much as it is an aggregate of individuals.” Our culture’s growing individualism is increasingly threatening our understanding and practice of community worship as a corporate experience — something we do together with other believers. We see clear evidence of this in declining attendance patterns, and in the expectations many people bring to their experience of worship. This view of worship — as an essentially private experience rather than a corporate one — stands in direct contrast to biblical and historical teaching. This workshop will explore the deliberately corporate nature of worship gatherings, and offer practical suggestions about how we might strengthen the communal nature of worship.

16. Worship in an Entertainment Culture: The Challenge of Participatory Worship

In one of his earliest books on worship, Robert Webber wrote: “Worship calls for the involvement of our mind, body and soul. Worship demands nothing less than the complete, conscious, and deliberate participation of the worshipper.” In much church culture today, however, congregations have become little more than audiences, content to observe worship rather than be active participants in it. This workshop will explore what truly participatory worship looks like, and offer practical suggestions for re-engaging the minds, bodies and souls of worshippers in the dialogue of worship.


Singing sessions

1. World Music in Worship

Over the last number of decades there has been a surge of interest in worship music from other cultures and nations. Almost all new hymnals and supplements have included music from the international church, and the hunger for these global expressions of worship remains strong. This reading session will explore a variety of new songs from worshipping communities around the world.

2. New Music for Worship

It has been suggested that more new music for worship has been written since 1970 than in the nearly two-thousand years of worship up to that point. How do we sift through all the choices available to us? This reading session will explore new congregational songs in a broad range of current styles (contemporary hymnody, praise and worship, international songs, folk, spirituals, and more). Along the way we’ll discuss practical suggestions for enriching congregational repertoire without frustrating or alienating worshippers.

3. Music for the Opening of Worship

The songs which begin worship set the tone for corporate encounter with God. This reading session will explore how the songs we choose can help prepare people’s hearts for worship and lead them into corporate dialogue with God: songs of gathering and centering, calls to worship, invocations, and more. A wide range of musical styles will be represented.

4. A Whirlwind History of Congregational Song

Take a trip through two thousand years of congregational song in this whirlwind tour of the history of worship music. From the music of the earliest Christian communities to today’s contemporary styles, this combination lecture/sing-along celebrates the rich diversity of music used in corporate worship throughout the centuries.

5. The Stories Behind the Carols We Sing

Bring new life and meaning to your favourite Christmas carols by exploring the people and events behind their creation. This combination sing-along and story session is ideally suited for Advent or Christmas events, Senior’s meetings, or Adult Education classes.

6. New Carols for Advent and Christmas

Getting a little weary of singing the same carols years after year? Is it becoming difficult to find appropriate music for worship during the season of Advent? Perhaps it’s time to breathe some new life into your worship music during Advent and Christmas. In this reading session, we’ll explore a variety of new songs and carols which can enliven and enrich your corporate worship in this season.